Back in July of 2011, CFSBK started noticing that while people were making good progress on their barbell lifts, we weren’t spending enough time developing basic gymnastics capacity through direct practice of foundational calisthenics. We noted that people could pull a lot of weight off the floor, but still struggled doing a set of 20 unbroken push-ups. To curb this trend, and in the spirit of the original 2003 "CrossFit Warm-Up," we implemented "Standardized Warm-Ups" (SWU) after intros and general movement prep. The intention was to dedicate eight to 10 minutes of class to training these movements while also performing an effective warm-up routine before the more rigorous training ahead. Before 2011, we usually wrote a novel warm-up for each class. We soon found that having a more consistent warm-up regime made running classes more efficient, and was a more effective training stimulus. Today we're going to talk about how CFSBK implemented SWU and provide some examples of templates we've used.
Popular Internet pastimes in the world of fitness include, but are not limited to: making blanket statements about various exercises or training programs, and providing specific recommendations to an invisible audience without context. Sometimes, these recommendations are based on science and backed up by common sense, such as the statement: "having novice lifters attempt rep maxes on their lifts is both dangerous, inappropriate, and an ineffective use of their training time." That particular blanket statement is sound advice and any prudent coach should at this point be nodding along in agreement. Other times, general statements require a little more nuance and context, and thus, become confusing and inconsequential. For example, a warning like: "If you bound your box jumps your calves will immediately explode upon making contact with the ground." Well, some people certainly shouldn't be doing high rep bounded box jumps, but depending on their tissue quality, technique, and the volume of reps being programmed, others will probably be just fine. Often the reality behind a recommendation falls in a grey area and depends on analysis of the situation sitting in front of you—not something you read about on the Internet.
The majority of training-related injuries any facility will encounter are usually progressive in nature, meaning they’re the result of inefficient technique, inherent orthopedic limitations, or overuse of a particular movement pattern. These issues are systemic and minimizing them depends on your ability to program intelligently and make thoughtful and specific recommendations to athletes about how to modify or scale their workouts on a daily basis. Below, we address commonly-seen situations in CrossFit gyms that have the potential for acute or catastrophic injuries—and are often completely avoidable. To be clear, this article is not meant to condemn the movements themselves, but to offer some context as to how to implement them responsibly at your gym.
A basic reality of any and all group exercise programs is that people are going to be working semi-autonomously for large portions of class. Often times, you'll come across individuals who need way more help than the average person—the kind of people that make you think, "Oh boy, can you do the exact opposite of all that??" If you plan on doing any group coaching, whether CrossFit or otherwise, you're going to deal with these people on a daily basis. And you, as the empathetic coach, may not be quite sure how to deal with troubled movers while also not ignoring the rest of the class. You need to learn some skills that enable you to triage these people so that they can remain safe and informed about how to handle themselves while you’re not there. In today's article, we're going to share some strategies and examples of how to work with people who need more than basic cues and corrections.
When Earl L. began Strength Cycle at CFSBK in the early spring of 2012, he weighed 175 pounds and had been CrossFitting for three years—but knew he needed to get stronger. He already worked as a private military contractor, but decided to treat the program like another job, rather than just “going to the gym,” which meant he began eating more (viewing steak as a staple), quit drinking, and slept as often as possible. Within eight weeks, he took his totals from 275 on squat, 125 on press, and 335 on deadlift to 355, 165, and 405 (respectively). He also gained 23 pounds without altering his body composition. Earl’s story is a powerful example of the efficacy of Strength Cycle, and demonstrates why we stand behind this program so strongly. Last week, we discussed the origin and basic overview of Strength Cycle program run by coach Jeremy Fisher. If you missed that article, please check it out to gain a more context before digging into the logistics of how to run the program, which we’re sharing this week.
When Jeremy Fisher signed up for the 2008 CrossFit Games, there were no qualifiers and no stadiums—he was enlisting in a weekend at Dave Castro’s ranch in Aromas, California involving only four workouts: chest-to-bar “Fran,” five rounds of deadlifts and burpees, and as Jeremy describes it, “that fucking hill run.” Sunday was a heavy squat clean version of “Grace.” A lifelong athlete and intense competitor, he was both fast and strong, and he placed a respectable 33rd out of 196 male athletes. But CrossFit had begun its weave into the fabric of the mainstream fitness world and the following year, he only made it as far as Regionals. His main takeaway from competing and being part of the CrossFit world years before the 10,000-affiliate milestone and the Games airing on ESPN? There is no training adaptation more important than strength.